I own nothing you recognize. All original characters and storylines are my own.
Three to Tango
"Can you hand me the ratchet, this bastard's loose?" Dean asked as he rolled out from under the Impala. I handed him the ratchet and he took it without a second glance. "You mind going under and seeing if there's anything else going on? You always catch stuff I miss."
"Umm, I'm not…" I wasn't "allowed" underneath a car anymore but I resisted telling him that.
"Jesus Christ Ari, do you wanna help or not?" He asked exasperated as he rolled back out.
"Ok, it's on secure right?" I asked and he nodded before he got up and left the creeper for me.
"You think I'd half-ass it? We're working on my baby." I grinned at him and got on the creeper before I rolled under to check out everything. It all looked good, but that was the least of my concerns. Just as I cleaned some grease away to get a better look at a section by the fuel line I heard the voice I dreaded.
"What the fuck? Get the hell out from under there!" I winced, there was Juice.
"She's doing something for me. Back the fuck off Mr. Mom." I rolled out from under the car and saw Juice and Dean facing off.
"No you back the fuck off. She's my old lady and the baby she's having is mine so I say what goes where she's concerned. Got that?" I looked between them, getting pissed. They both wanted me to do things their way.
"She's not one of your "girls", not some piece of ass that needs to be ordered around and controlled. She's strong, a lot stronger than any of you, and can handle her own shit. She doesn't need you." Dean took a step forward and Juice answered the challenge.
"You think she needs you?" Juice asked and the vein in Dean's neck started to pop.
"As much as I need her." Juice seemed to back off but then realized it would be a pussy move so he got in Dean's face and the two squared off. Shit, I thought they'd worked out that aggression in the ring.
"Ok, stop this shit! You both love me in different ways and both want what's best for me so stop this dick measuring." I went to get between them but Dean put up a hand.
"Stay out of this Ari." I raised my eyebrows and was about to speak when Juice turned to me.
"He wants to hash this out let him. I have some shit I want to say too." I looked between them. I'd just been fucking dismissed…fine, they didn't want me to join the fray I'd be gone. I stalked off across the lot to Stevie, flipped them both off and tore out of the lot toward one place I was always welcome. Cara Cara.
"Hey is Luann busy?" I asked the mic guy as I entered the building and was given a noncommittal nod, either she was or wasn't but this guy wasn't interested enough to say anything. "Dude, I'm in no mood for this. Either get me Luann or I'll tear this fucking place apart looking for her. Don't test me."
Something in my eyes must have given away my irritation because he grabbed one of the PAs, whispered something then sent him on his way. I stood waiting, getting pissed off when I heard the clacking of frantic heels before I came face to face with the woman I needed to see.
"What's wrong baby, something happen to the guys?" She took my arm and I shook my head.
"No I just found myself surrounded by too much macho shit this morning and needed to haul ass. I was hoping I could hide out here for a while." She simply smiled before she linked her arm with mine.
"No problem doll." She walked me to her office and I saw the little blond come out of the break room. As soon as her eyes met mine I sneered and she ducked back in. God I loved messing with that obnoxious little bint.
Luann and I sat and chatted for a while and I started to feel less like killing the two jackasses. I needed a woman like Lu in my life, she was strong and confident but didn't have that need to control like Gemma. She offered me advice that wasn't a veiled command and I appreciated it. As we discussed some problems she was having with the server, problems I could fix, one of her PAs knocked.
"What is it?" She asked in a tone that held a ton of authority but also some affection. She loved all her girls and boys.
"There's this guy at the door, he says he knows Ari's here and we better let him in or he'll beat all our asses. He's not a Son." I groaned and rubbed my eyes, great… Dean was here.
"It's Dean, my brother-in-law." I'd told her about Sam so she nodded and the guy went out to get him. Dean in a porn studio…this could be amusing. Pretty soon the PA was back with Dean in tow and Dean was looking at everything, taking it in and I had to laugh, it really was amusing.
"There's…naked….what? Ari?" His eyes were glazed and I had to smile, no matter how angry I was about things this was amusing.
"Dean, this is Luann Delaney, she runs this studio and is another old lady. Luann this is Dean, one of the most important men in my life." Luann smiled as she got up from her seat and held a hand out to Dean, in a debonair move he leaned down to kiss it rather than shake and Luann had to fan herself.
"Well now, have you ever done porn? I have the perfect set-up. You like chaps?" Dean looked floored for a minute by her forthrightness but soon smiled that patented Dean smile.
"I do like chaps ma'am but I'm not into my ass being front and center at every dirty movie place from here to New York." His grin was cocky and Luann smiled.
"You could have your pick of the girls. Hell Ima'd be happy to do you." He looked at me and I shook my head.
"Ima'd be happy to do anyone. You don't want her Dean, she's what we call a "high traffic area" makes the Jersey Turnpike look like a leisurely Sunday drive." Luann slapped my shoulder but still chuckled.
"Shut up Ariel, I take it you're here to see her right?" Luann asked as she pointed to me and Dean nodded, but still gave her that cocky grin
Yes, Ma'am. She took off when the brohawk and I started butting heads." She snorted at "brohawk" as she shook her head.
"I took off because you two were being assholes. If you wanna talk I'm all ears, just not here." He nodded but then his smile turned sly.
"Maybe you could give me a tour?" He asked hopefully and I rolled my eyes but nodded and Lu gave a brief nod to let me know it was ok for me to do so, so I walked to the door, took Dean's hand and led him to the magical land that was Cara Cara Studios.
"This is the prep room where the performers get ready." I pointed around the room and Dean suddenly got a look of shock on his face.
"Is that Candy Hart?" He asked and I rolled my eyes…fucking Ima…
"Yes that's Candy Hart but here we call her Ima and trust me when I say that you don't want anything she has to offer." He raised his eyebrows at me, he usually trusted my judgment but lately that wasn't the case.
"But she was in Back Alley Threeway 4 and Cowgirls are Easy 1-5." I raised an eyebrow and sighed, he knew his porn as well as he knew his exorcism techniques.
"Yes, yes she was. She's also a dirty skank who's going out of her way to ruin a loving relationship where a child is involved." His eyebrows knit together and I saw the beginnings of anger.
"Did Juice screw the slut?" As soon as he asked that I felt my heart swell. He may want to continually kick Juice's ass but he'd be damned if some skanky porn star was going to take him away from me.
"No, she's after Jax." I whispered and he looked less angry.
"I still wanna meet her." He looked less eager but determined. I knew he'd taken a liking to Jax and he had seen how Jax and Tara were together so that little bit of information didn't sit well with him.
"Ima! Come here girl!" I shouted and resisted the urge to pat my leg. She looked like she was going to ignore me, then she saw Dean and like the man-hungry bitch she was came over but kept a respectful distance from me.
"Do you need something?" She tried to be haughty but I curled my lip and she shrunk in on herself.
"Ima, this is Dean. He's my brother and a big fan. He's seen your whole filmography." She looked proud of that and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"Which one's your favorite? I just finished a little bit of girl on girl shit for the site, Brenda and I could give you a free show." She smiled and Dean looked torn. He looked over at me, helpless but I just shrugged.
"It's your call but don't forget what she is." At this her eyes flashed at me and I was ready for whatever she was going to dish out.
"What am I Ari? Hmm? I am a strong, independent woman who makes my own money, more money in one hour than you see in a fucking month." She smirked and I smiled as I shook my head.
"Yes you make a lot of money, and I congratulate you on your fiscal sense. My disdain has nothing to do with your career choice. Has it escaped your notice that I go to breakfast with Lyla whenever our schedules sync? No, nothing to do with your career." I took a breath I loved this part. "I don't like you Ima, I'll never like you and that's because you're just the worst sort of woman. You'll sell out "friends" to make a quick buck and you're doing your damndest to break up a strong functioning relationship for what reason? Is it to boost your ego, to land the "big dog"? I'd laugh if you weren't so vicious in your pursuit, using Jax's "Prince Valiant" personality against him. I don't claim to know what Jax is thinking or doing but I do know that he loves Tara but love is something you can't comprehend, you're too used to using people. Tell me something Ima and be honest, do you want a crow or do you just wanna be queen?"
She looked frightened for a second but then looked at Dean and when my eyes slid to him I saw that he was taking in everything she did and said.
"I want nothing, you're just being ridiculous." She laughed and I laughed with her.
"Good answer because that's exactly what you'll get, nothing. You're nothing more than a walking talking pussy and that's how the guys see you too. You'll never have what I have, a good man and a Club at your back, willing to die to protect you. You'll never have a family like I have with Juice or the mark that tells the world you're his. Chances are you'll either end up a trophy wife somewhere like Tuscaloosa or some redneck haven or you'll wind up alone, desperately trying to cling to what you are now because I'll tell you this, you don't have the brains, determination or savvy to be the next Jenna Jameson. Hell you'll never even be good enough to lick her boots." I laughed and her hand went up to slap me but Dean grabbed it.
"Easy there cowgirl, you don't wanna be hittin' her. You need that face to earn your living and we both know Ari will fuck you up." He gently pushed her away and she started to stalk off before he stopped her. "Hey Candy!"
"What?" She asked and I could see tears in her eyes but I couldn't be bothered to care.
"My favorite movie of yours is Candy Man in Candy's Land great dialogue in that one." That actually made her smile a bit before she walked off. "She really doesn't like you."
"Good, have enough on my plate without Little Miss Blowjob on my ass." I cracked my neck and he chuckled.
"Damn, I forgot how vicious you can be when you don't like someone. I'm hungry, let's get breakfast, then head back to the garage. I have business to settle." I rolled my eyes but agreed I was hungry too and Gabe needed some sustenance, but a thought made me smile.
"Are you my old man now?" I asked and he rolled his eyes.
"No, I'm your big brother and I haven't eaten in about two hours." He did look hungry.
"Fair enough, I'm seriously craving some huevos rancheros." He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and we left the studio. Before we went out I took a quick look around, I may have just found a Club business I could work in that wouldn't piss Clay or Juice off and the thought made me smile.
After we'd had our breakfast we went back to TM and I sighed, the bikes were gone, something else had went down while we were away, one good thing about it though was the fact that Juice and Dean wouldn't be fighting for a while. While the bikes were gone there was an addition to the lot that had me suck in a breath. Gemma's new Escalade was there. Well, Dean would have to meet her sooner or later.
"Come on." I slapped his arm and he took in the set of shoulder and just followed. I took a deep breath and walked into the office. Once I walked in with Dean trailing behind the red flags went up, Gemma was sitting at the desk with a benign smile on her face.
"Haven't seen you for four days darlin' hope there's a good reason." Immediately I felt like scum. I was supposed to be there for her but instead I was with Dean, trying to help him navigate through the world of SAMCRO.
"I'm sorry about that Gem. Before we continue, Gemma this is Dean and Dean this is Gemma. She's Clay's old lady and Jax's mom." She didn't get up from her seat but merely extended a hand and he kissed it like he had kissed Luann's earlier.
"Such a gentleman, he looks pretty good for going to hell and back." Dean simply smiled, he was well aware of the fact that SAMCRO knew about hunting and what he had been through.
"I had to come back I couldn't leave her and Sammy alone for a minute." His grin turned flirty. "I'd say you're looking pretty good yourself there...Gemma..."
It was out before I could stop him. Fuck he'd just hit on the National Charter Pres' wife, there would be repercussions. As I was about to usher him out Gemma started laughing and gestured for him to sit and grabbed my hand.
"Why didn't you go for this one?" I simply shook my head and she resumed laughing before she gestured for me to sit next to Dean. We sat there for a few seconds before she spoke.
"Clay says your like a mad dog when it comes to protecting our Ari." She lit a cigarette and Dean's eyebrows shot up at the utterance of "our" I'd told him repeatedly that I was SAMCRO now and he just had to accept it.
"She's my family and family's the only thing that matters." I smiled, he and Gemma were on the same page with that one.
"Smart boy, but I guess with your upbringing you were taught that early. If you're so protective of Ari, how come you let Sam treat her like trash for so long?" I closed my eyes, they were supposed to get to know each other, not bring up painful shit.
"No offense Ma'am but you didn't see them. You don't know my brother like he was. Yeah he's been kind of a tool lately but there was a time when Ari was his world. Her safety was his number one concern. I'm not saying he was perfect and that he didn't fuck up, but he loved Ari. I don't know what's happening with him now, but you can be sure that when he's back to himself he'll set out to make this right." I gaped at him, not only did he just admit to feeling something off about Sam, to a complete stranger no less, but he pretty much said Sam would come for me. I looked over and the smile on Gemma's face had been replaced by her crooked smirk.
"Make what right darlin'? She's an old lady now, tied to one of my boys. You think she'd leave Juice if your brother got back to himself again?" She asked and Dean chuckled.
"No Ma'am, Ari's loyal and she loves brohawk." Gemma raised her eyebrows and he amended. "Juice, she loves him and there's no way she's raising that baby without a father. No matter how I feel about how he treats her I can't help but admit that he does love her. One look at that dopey face and it's plain to see. I just want you to know that he's not the only one who looked at her like that."
"Fair enough but Sam's an asshole." She said in a voice that brooked no argument and Dean's face screwed up in almost confusion.
"I get that he was kind of a dick, but why do you hate Sammy so much?" Dean asked and I let out a breath.
"Simple darlin', he hurt my family." She let the meaning sink in and Dean just nodded.
"Just remember that he's my family...some of the last I got." Gemma nodded, they were of an accord, the Sam discussion was now over.
"You gonna be in town tomorrow night?" She asked and I furrowed my brow, there was nothing big coming up. Why'd she need to know?
"I'm going to be here for a couple more days. I still need to knock some sense into Ari." He grinned and Gemma's smirk even turned into a guarded smile. She knew how siblings interacted.
"Good, we're having a dinner tomorrow night, nothing fancy but I want you there. It'll be here at the Clubhouse." Ah, I got it. It was like a family dinner, but since she didn't trust him as much as actual family it was going to be slightly different.
"Thank you Ma'am, I'll be here." Her guarded smile turned predatory.
"I had no doubt of it. Now out of the office, I have work to do." I got up and kissed her cheek while Dean took her hand again but merely shook it this time, then we went outside where I let out a breath I'd been holding the whole meeting.
"That went well." Dean smirked and I glared.
"Come on and help me tape my knuckles...I feel like hitting something." I rolled my shoulder and went with determined strides to the garage. I needed to get this tension out.
"What's got you so pissed off?" Dean asked as I landed a couple of quick jabs to the bag. I was pregnant and supposed to take it easy so my concession was to only do quick jabs with the occasional right or left hook.
"You, Juice, me...everything." I jabbed a few more times before I stopped and looked at him, "What's your problem with me Dean. Seriously, why can't you understand that I'm happy. Yes, I admit things have changed and I have to try to get back to a semblance of what I was, but my life is good."
"I get that Ari, I do. I just don't like seeing you as a little lap dog." I was about to speak before he stopped me with a look. "They tell you to jump and you jump, they tell you to fetch and you fetch. You're a goddamn Messenger Ari, you helped stop the Apocalypse and here you are taking orders. You're so much better."
I snorted as I unwrapped my knuckles. The fight was gone and I just wanted to talk now.
"Dean, Babe, Honey Pie...All I've ever done is take orders. From Dad, from John...from you... I'm a good little soldier, so that's not the problem and you know it. Tell me, why can't you handle me living the life I am now?" I asked and he sighed.
"When you followed out orders it was to stay alive, we were in the field. We didn't ask you to get us beer, dish us up food, work in a damn office. You were one of the guys, you fought with us, hunted with us, killed with us, drank with us and hell, you had as many women as I did." I chuckled, "What?"
"More, so many more dude." He rolled his eyes before he continued.
"Whatever, the point is you're my equal Ari and seeing you reduced to a fucking serving wench kills me. I know you're one of their "old ladies" but that doesn't mean that you're their lap dog. I've seen the way they treat you, the way they look at you. If you said "no" once in a while it wouldn't be a criminal offense. I guess I'm saying that this isn't all their fault, as much as I'd like to blame those biker bastards it's not all on them, you need to remember how to push back Ari." As soon as he said it I felt tears in my eyes. How the fuck did he know me so well?
"I'm so scared Dean. These women, they're used and brushed aside and I'm scared that if I don't do everything they say, right when they say it or if I step a toe too far out of line that I'll lose them and Dean...this is the most secure family I've ever had. It's not even Juice. Hell I know that boy would turn the world on its head for me. There's nothing I could do to turn him away...but the Club? I don't want Clay to think I'm unreliable or can't be trusted. I don't want Gemma to think she's put her trust in the wrong person. I'm so fucking scared Dean...so fucking scared." I had started to cry in earnest and Dean, as awkward as he was with emotional shit came up to me and folded me in his arms.
"Have you told Juice this, or your friend Tara? Gemma? Naw, you wouldn't tell her you're pretty much afraid of her. Talk to them when you can they'll tell you what I did. You don't have to be a doormat to be a part of this world. Hell if Gemma's any indication smart, strong bitches are what the best old ladies are." That made me smile, he did have a point. I wrapped my arms around him and he hugged me tightly just as a rumble of bikes approached. I took a deep breath and moved away
"Thank you." I said as I wiped my eyes.
"You can thank me by being Ari again. Start by telling Juicy that you're working in the porn studio." My eyes widened and he smiled, "Did you think I missed that look?"
"Fine smartass. Go have a beer with Jax, I'll stop Juice." He nodded before he leaned down to kiss my head then he left the garage as I followed behind. Juice stopped when he saw me, a look of concern on his face before he looked at Dean who did a head jerk before he caught up with Jax at the door.
"You ok baby?" Juice asked as he came up to me and wiped some of the moisture from my cheeks.
"I need to talk to you about something baby. Wanna join me in the back garage for a few?" I asked and he nodded before he took my hand and walked with me to the empty garage. Once we got in there I grabbed astool and he joined me.
"Are you ok baby, is the baby ok?" His voice was concerned to the point of almost panicking.
"I'm fine, but I just had a very emotionally loaded conversation with Dean. He said some things that I need to address with you." He looked relieved for a second before he looked confused.
"What's wrong?" He took my hand and kissed it gently before he held it between both of his, it was so intimate, so comforting that I felt myself smile at this man, the man that I loved.
"I need you to understand something Carlos. As much as I love you and want you to be with me forever I'm fed up with you constantly babying me and telling me I can't do things I'm perfectly capable of. I know that it's because you want to protect me but I need you to understand that I've been hunting, fighting and fixing shit my whole life, I know what I'm capable of. I know what my body's limits are. If I want to fix a car, I'm going to. If I want to help with a hunt I will. Don't get me wrong I do love you and I love this baby but I can't be scared anymore. I need to stand up for myself here. I need to push back and stop being a pushover." He kept my hand with his but there was a definite tenseness in his hands. "What is it?"
"I know you're capable baby, I trust you and trust your abilities but I've already lost one woman and one baby because she did too much, I can't lose you too. That would fuck me up too much to recover from it." I gasped, he'd never told me about anything like that happening. "No baby I haven't told you about Angie. She was serving with me during my tour of duty. She was a mouthy, tough, little Italian chick from Jersey. Until I met you she was the toughest chick I ever knew and I fell hard for her. There must be something about me with tough chicks because she fell too and we had a relationship under the CO's nose. We were closing in on the end of our tour when she found out she was pregnant, government issue condoms are shit, and she decided that once our tour was done we'd get out and run a computer repair shop in Newark. I was all for it, her uncle had connections and could get us a space and I wouldn't have to deal with Army shit anymore. We'd start a real family."
He choked up and I caressed his face. He removed his hands from mine and pressed my hand to his cheek before he entwined our fingers and continued the story.
"One of our missions was using the sonar feeds to find landmines and disable them. I didn't want her to do it, but she didn't want her condition broadcast to the CO so she insisted on doing the mission and I let her...the sonar had missed an active landmine..but Angie's boot found it..." He started to tear up and I unwound our fingers and held him to me as he continued. "There was barely enough left of her to fill a box. I went crazy after that and they agreed to honorably discharge me as long as I got help. Once I got my walking papers I took off and moved from place to place until I got here. Now I have a family and I have you and I don't wanna lose either."
"Oh baby..." I kissed him and he kissed back hungrily. He needed comfort and I needed to give it to him. Once it broke he ran his hand under my hairline and held me in place.
"I love you and I love our son, that's why I don't want you under the car, around fumes, doing dangerous shit because I may have survived losing Angie but I know I'll never survive losing you. You're it for me baby, you're the reason I get up in the morning. Yeah the Club matters and I'll be a Son until I die but you're my heart baby, it beats for you and our son." Tears started to pour from my eyes and I had to kiss him again but he broke it this time. "Losing you would kill me."
"Baby, I'm so sorry about Angie, so sorry you had that loss but you have to remember that I'm not her. I've been doing this stuff since I was three. I know what I can do, what I can't and I'm not afraid to ask for help. I promise never to go it alone. Do you trust me baby?" I asked as I ran my fingertips over his jaw.
"It doesn't matter if I trust you, but I will let you try this. Do you want to go back to the garage?" He asked and I shook my head.
"No, I want to go to Cara Cara. Lu needs a tech person on staff and having an extra gun on hand wouldn't be a bad thing. What do you say baby?" He let out a breath and gave me a small watery smile.
"I say talk to Clay but you have my support. I'd rather have you at a server, than under a car and you're a good bodyguard." He took a couple of deep breaths before his brow furrowed and he looked at me. "Are you happy? I mean does being with me make you happy."
"I'm happy baby but I'm sick of being scared all the time, scared that I'm not good enough., scared that one toe out of line will get me kicked out of this world. I can't lose you baby and I can't lose the Club." I put my head down and Juice crushed me in a hug.
"Oh baby, you'll never lose me. I'll be with you no matter what and the Club? You're loyal, you're honest and you're a ride or die bitch. You're everything an old lady should be. Don't be scared baby, it would take a hell of a lot for the Club to turn on you and I know you aren't capable of that." I held him tight and breathed in his scent. I needed it.
"I love you." I whispered and he broke the embrace to kiss me gently before he put our foreheads together.
"I love you too. Let's go to the Clubhouse, I have a feeling Dean's hustling Tig again. He never did learn his lesson." I laughed and got up, taking the hand Juice offered. we walked into the Clubhouse and Juice was right to an extent, Dean was hustling, only it wasn't Tig. Jax was standing with a pool cue in his hand looking pissed while Dean did a move and sunk all the stripes on the table. Dean looked up and grinned and I couldn't help but grin back. Here was my past and my future blended together. Now I just had to find a way to keep it like this.
Author's Note: So sorry for the delay in posting. My muse was not letting this story come to the fore for a long time but she's back. The next chapter will be the last Dean chapter :( Don't worry though he's far from done with Ari. I think Bobby may make an appearance later but time will tell. As always I hope Dean wasn't too out of character. I know he's not the talking type but I have a feeling that with Ari he made an exception, she was like a shrink to him. As always thank you for reading and reviewing :)